Apple products are getting more expensive

I’ve been thinking about Apple’s pricing a lot lately. It’s reached a point where I’m not going to be able to afford to update my Apple hardware as often as I would like.

My Apple devices are getting dated but for now, I won’t be upgrading to any new devices. I’m going to have to use my existing hardware until it becomes unusable. Instead of having an iMac, MacBook, iPad, and iPhone as I do now I’ll be more selective in the future. For example, my iMac is a late 2013 non-retina. It’s getting dated. It’s stuck on Sierra. I love it but when it fails I won’t be replacing it. Instead, I’ll use my 2015 MacBook for all my computing needs. I just can’t justify the cost of owning two macs anymore.

I’ll also be sticking with my iPhone 7 Plus for now. It works great and does everything that I need for it to do. At a $1,000 plus a new iPhone Xs model isn’t in my budget.

I’ve got a feeling I’m not the only one feeling this way. Here’s a Washington Post article that does a nice job of laying Apple’s price hikes and what you should do if the price of Apple loyalty is getting hard for you to swallow.

Geoffrey A. Fowler and Andrew Van Dam, writing for the Washington Post

Apple has never made cheap stuff. But this fall many of its prices increased 20 percent or more. The MacBook Air went from $1,000 to $1,200. A Mac Mini leaped from $500 to $800. It felt as though the value proposition that has made Apple products no-brainers might unravel.

What we learned: Being loyal to Apple is getting expensive. Many Apple product prices are rising faster than inflation — faster, even, than the price of prescription drugs or going to college. Yet when Apple offers cheaper options for its most important product, the iPhone, Americans tend to take the more expensive choice. So while Apple isn’t charging all customers more, it’s definitely extracting more money from frequent upgraders.

What we see is a reflection of a new reality for consumer tech. Most Americans who want a smartphone, tablet or laptop already have one and aren’t interested in changing to a new system. Without big subsidies from phone carriers and as product innovation slows, we also don’t mind holding on to these products for three or more years. Apple, hoping to charge more every time we do buy, is changing how it gets money from us. So we need to change how we think about its value.

But the specs hardly matter. As any member of the Apple tribe will profess, it’s selling far more than sexy hardware. It’s an Apple-only operating system that works with all its other Apple-only stuff, like iMessage and iCloud — a (mostly) happy trap that’s hard to leave. You’re buying access to all those Apple Stores and customer service, not to mention Apple’s aggressive stance on privacy.

The paradox is that many Apple customers think they must have the latest, trained by Apple marketing to future-proof ourselves. So this year, instead of buying a year-old iPhone 8 at a discount or an iPhone XR (a much less expensive compromise to the top iPhone XS), many customers are skipping out on an upgrade altogether.

The question is: How far can Apple’s latest and greatest prices stretch? “Apple is becoming aggressive, perhaps overly so, in pricing the top- of-the-line models of its products,” says Rafi Mohammed, a pricing strategy consultant. And that is “putting its loyal relationship with its core customers at risk.”

In 2014, Americans waited about 24 months to upgrade their phones at national carriers, according to BayStreet. Now we’re waiting almost 36 months. People will ride their iPhone 6S until its wheels come off.

“I could see it going to four years” for phones, says industry analyst Ben Bajarin of Creative Strategies.

So what should you do if the price of Apple loyalty is getting hard to swallow?

Instead, you might ask: How many Apple products do you really need?

Beyond that, it’s about recalibrating our upgrade urge. Apple devices really do last a long time, all the more so with the inexpensive battery replacements Apple is offering through the end of the year. If your iPhone breaks, used ones available on eBay can still work great for far less money.

Or: Before buying the new thing following one of Apple’s launch events, wait a month until the buzz settles. If the product doesn’t still seem very revolutionary, it’s a safe bet to save your money by holding on for another year. Or four.

My 2019 Must-Have Mac Apps

This article is an annual tradition: towards the end of December I summarize My Must-Have Mac Apps that I will be using for the next year. This is always among my most popular posts. I’m sharing my 2019 must have apps in hopes you’ll discover a new app or two that will improve your workflow or make you more productive.

During 2018 I tried a lot of different apps. Some I liked and switched to, others I tried and didn’t like and stayed with what I’d been using. Having the right app for the right task on the right device is key to my productivity.

You can find My 2019 Must-Have iOS apps for iPhone and iPad here.

My Mac setup:

I have two Macs. A late-2013 21.5” iMac and an early-2015 13” Retina MacBook Pro.

Here’s my software and what I use it for:

Safari
Safari is my browser of choice. It just works best on macOS. I use Firefox Quantum browser when a site doesn’t play nice with Safari.

Fastmail
I’ve been using Fastmail as my email service for over 4 years. It’s been a great Gmail replacement. I’ve written about Fastmail here.

Things 3
Things 3 is for task management and reminders. I love the simplicity of how it works. I wrote about it here.

Fantastical 2
Fantastical is my calendar app. It’s where I keep my appointments and some reminders. I love that I can use natural language to quickly create events and reminders.

Bear
Bear is my notes and lists app. I’ve been a pro user since the inception of the app. It’s beautiful to work in, search is excellent and I’ve never had a sync issue.

Ulysses
Ulysses is the app I use to write my stories. I’ve had a love-hate relationship with it since it went subscription. During the year I tried other writing apps but none compares with Ulysses.

Marked 2
Marked is the markdown previewer app I use side by side with Ulysses.

Grammarly
Grammarly is for proofreading my stories for grammar and punctuation.

Copied
Copied is my cross-platform clipboard history manager. I’ve written about it here.

Reeder
Reeder is my newsreader for my Feedly RSS feeds.

Tweetbot
Tweetbot is for reading my Twitter feed.

Instapaper
Instapaper is my read it later service. I wrote an article about my Instapaper workflow here.

Alfred
Alfred is Spotlight on steroids. I’d be lost without it. Alfred is my launcher, search interface, TextExpander replacement and much more.

Keyboard Maestro
Keyboard Maestro is another productivity app that I couldn’t live without. I use Keyboard Maestro keyboard shortcuts to launch apps, open files and folders and for automating actions. It has a learning curve but once you start to get the hang of it you can do some amazing things. Check out Keyboard Maestro’s homepage for a list of all the things you can do.

BetterTouchTool
BetterTouchTool allows me to configure gestures or keyboard shortcuts for my Magic Mouse, MacBook Trackpad, and Magic Trackpad to trigger actions like moving and resizing windows, switching tabs in Safari and more. BTT has a 45-day free trial. Give it a try.

Dropbox
Dropbox is where I keep files that I want to have available on all my devices. It’s also where syncing happens for apps like Alfred, Keyboard Maestro, and BetterTouchTool.

PDFpen and Hazel are key apps for my paperless workflow. I’ve written about my paperless workflow here.

App Cleaner
AppCleaner is my app uninstaller. I use it because it deletes all the junk that gets left behind when you just drag the app icon to the trash.

PopClip
I use PopClip to manage what I do with selected text. I’ve written about PopClip here.

Yoink
Yoink speeds and up my workflow by simplifying drag and drop. I’ve written about Yoink here.

Bartender 3
Bartender is the app I use to organize my menu bar. I’ve written about it here.

ScreenFloat
ScreenFloat is my app for taking floating screenshots and storing them.

TunnelBear VPN
TunnelBear is my VPN for security on public WiFi and web browsing privacy.

f.lux
f.lux is for protecting my eyes and sleeping better at night.

Conserve your MacBook’s battery with this keyboard setting

Did you know the MacBook has a setting to power off the keyboard backlight after a period of inactivity? I didn’t. This is the same concept as the Energy Saver feature for your display.

The setting is here: System Preferences > Keyboard > Keyboard > Turn keyboard backlight off after X secs of inactivity.

This isn’t something I would use all the time but it could come in handy in a pinch. Give it a try the next time you’re in a situation where you need to conserve your MacBook’s battery power.

How to View Folder Sizes on Mac Using Finder

I don’t often need to know the size of a folder but when I did I didn’t know how to find the size until recently.

When you use Finder’s List view to work with files on your Mac, the Size column tells you the size of each file, but when it comes to folders in the list, Finder just shows a couple of dashes instead.

Here’s how to view the size of a folder. Click File in the menu bar and hold the Option key, and Get Info will turn into Show Inspector. Unlike a Get Info panel, the Inspector panel is dynamically updated and will always display information for the active Finder window’s currently selected file or folder – including, of course, its size.

Magic Mouse randomly losing connection

I have been having issues with my Magic Mouse losing its connection. It was happening so often that it was driving me crazy. I had to do something about it.

I started by doing a google search for “Magic Mouse keeps losses connection”. I found a forum where other folks were having the same problem. This suggestion by sbeddoesdesign in an Apple Discussion Forum solved my problem:

I had this problem too, turns out a slight design flaw with the mouse is that smaller batteries come loose and power is lost, so the bluetooth dies. You’ll probably find that it loses connection when you’re moving it around quite a lot, in particular, when you lift it up off of the desk and put it back down again. See, different brands of battery tend to be ever so slightly varied in size, and smaller ones tend to be more ‘loose’ in the mouse and an be shaken loose when moving the mouse around.

The best solution (the one which worked for me) is to grab a set of Apple’s own rechargeable batteries from their store as they are just the right size to fit in the mouse without ever being shaken loose.

If you can’t do this, some people find that wedging a bunch of paper between the two batteries and between the batteries and the mouse door can help keep them in place.

Wedging a bunch of paper between the two batteries and between the batteries and the mouse door worked for me. If you’re experiencing the same problem with your Magic Mouse I hope this solves the problem for you as it did me.

Cloudflare’s 1.1.1.1 privacy-first DNS service is now available as an iOS app

I’ve been using Cloudflare’s 1.1.1.1 DNS service on my Mac since reading a post by Kirk McElhearn on the Intego Mac Security Blog about the service. The service was introduced April 1st of this year and is designed to be faster than traditional DNS services and more private which is what got my attention.

There are a number of things to explain here. First, DNS, or domain name system, is the system that acts like a sort of phone book on the Internet. Instead of having to remember a numerical IP address, such as 96.126.119.191, you can type intego.com to go to the Intego website. There is a huge directory that records the correspondence between these numerical addresses and domain names to facilitate Internet usage, and to make it easy to move a domain from one server to another.

Most people rely on the DNS server provided by their ISP or phone company. By default, your Macs and iOS devices look for this DNS server, which is either specified in your router, or in the server your iPhone connects to, in order to perform this address translation. But you don’t need to use this DNS server; you can use any one you want. In many cases, ISP’s DNS servers may not be the fastest ones, and this can have a big effect on your Internet usage. For example, if a web page is made up of multiple elements, that are not all hosted on the same server, your browser has to request these elements at a number of servers, and each different domain name requires a new request.

In addition, some ISPs may record the metadata of your Internet activity, or the requests you make: the websites you visit, the servers you connect to, and more.

Now, months after announcing its privacy-focused DNS service, Cloudflare is introducing an iOS app. Having had a good experience using 1.1.1.1 on my Macs I didn’t hesitate to install the iOS app on my iPhone and iPad. I’ve been running the app now for several days and it has been working great and definitely seems to be faster.

For instructions on setting up 1.1.1.1 on your Mac visit this page using your Mac and scroll down to Setup on Mac. For iOS, you can download the app from the App Store, or to set it up manually visit this page using your iOS device and scroll down to Setup on iOS.